Well, it was a closer game than we might have liked, but the Blazers put away the Memphis Grizzlies to seal the sixth seed in the Western Conference. Memphis sat Zach Randolph and Tony Allen, but the rest of the team were happy to give the Blazers everything they could.
The Blazers were led by LaMarcus Aldridge, with 22 points and 11 rebounds in just 27 foul-plagued minutes. Rudy Fernandez busted out of his slump for 18 points on 4-5 three point shooting, Gerald Wallace added 14 points in a lively second half, Nicolas Batum scored 16, and Wesley Matthews contributed 13 points. In his first minute as a Blazer, Earl Barron finished with 2 points and a rebound.
The Blazers now await word on their opponent. Despite losing Andrew Bynum to an ugly injury (hyperextended knee, MRI tomorrow), the Lakers held off the Spurs minus their big three. That means:
- All three teams (Lakers, Mavs, OKC) can still finish as the third seed.
- The Lakers control their destiny, if they win tomorrow (at Sac), they're the second seed.
- The Mavs control their destiny to an extent. If they win tomorrow (vs NOH), they're the second or third seed (Depending on the Laker/Sac game).
- OKC needs to win (vs Bucks), and Dallas to lose to reach the third seed. Otherwise they're fourth.
One regular-season game left for the Blazers, a meaningless finale in Oakland against the Warriors. I hope it's more boring than the memorable meaningless game last year.
Box score is here, and Dave and Ben will have more later. -- Tim